This is going to be more than a Happy Saint Pat's day posting..it is also going to be full of good Auld Irish Curses...or May you be afflicted with the itch and have no nails to scratch with...
Most everyone knows about the Irish blessings:May the wind always be at your back, and may you be in heaven half an hour before the Devil knows you're dead.
But the Irish are also known for their curses...The curse is as Irish as cable-knit sweaters, soda bread and Guinness Stout. I'm not talking about the small time curse that you might here on the interstate in noon-time traffic....Nay laddies and lassies...That sort of curse is what a lite beer is to a Guinness. A real Irish curse rolls of the tongue as easily as a 'top of the marning to ye'.'...an example: Six horse-loads of graveyard clay on top of you. Or: The anguished bankruptcy of the year to you. and :May your hens take the disorder, your cows the crippen and your calves the white scour. May yourself go stone-blind so that you will not know your wife from a haystack.
You don't even have to know what a crippen or white scour are to know you're in deep shit.
The word curse comes from the old Gaelic, cursachadh, meaning abuse.
This all started with the sharp-tongued Celts.Classical (Greek and Latin) authorities speak of the ancient Celts as verbally gifted and verbally aggressive.The Roman historian Tacitus mentions the shocking language-and behavior-Celtic women folk directed at invading Roman legions. Anyone attacking the Irish could expect volleys of invective as well as stones and arrows. Curses run all through Irish literature and folklore. Some cultures use totems and signs to put fear into the hearts of their enemies, but the Irish used words.The Irish so revered the power of language, that young men spent years in monastic seclusion preparing to become bards. Irish chieftains hired these bards to compose satirical poems full of invective directed at their enemies. They actually believed if they wrote that your nose was going to fall off, it would fall off...(George W. Bush...you're dick is going to fall off.)
The curse was thought to be mightier than the sword. Irish armies once employed officail cursers, usually a druid, or member of the ancient Celtic priestly class, who would stand in front of the battle line and chant curses and spells at the enemies..At the siege of Drom Damhghaire, where Mogh Ruith, greatest of Ireland's druids, not only advised the besieged army when and where to make its stand, but also "blew a magic breath, which became a black cloud." That could, surely a particularly vile and effective curse, floated toward the enemy and fell as a shower of blood. There is a Irish pub, The Irish Lion, where the management has printed the following on the menu, right above the Celtic stew, fish and chips, and Blarney puff balls(I'm not touching that one with a 6 foot pole or a 7 foot Czech):"May those who love us, love us, and those that don't love us, may God turn their hearts, and if He doesn't turn their hearts may he turn their ankles so we'll know them by their limping."..Trush the Irish to wrap a blessing around a curse.
Priests' and widows' curses were believed to be especially potent. The priest already had the supernatural on his side. The widow, in contrast, had no status, no husband, no wealth to protect her. The curse was her last recourse, and all the more powerful because of it.
The Irish classified curses into a number of catagories:The hereditary curse, intended to ruin a person adn his descendants for generations.
The 'reverting' curse bounces back from its intended target to afflick the curser.
The slua-mhallacht, or multiple curse, a series of curses strung together for maxium effect(very popular in cursing contests...hey, now there's an idea.)
The ceremonial group-curse, in which groups of people who have been wronged coordinate their curses against the malefactor.
The historic curse, directed toward the source of some old, but not forgotten, grievance.
"The curse of Cromwell on you," runs one famous Irish curse invoking the dreaded name of the Protestant Lord Protector of England whose troops savaged Catholic Ireland.
In County Cork, one could lay a curse on a whole house by backing throught the door while cleaning a boot.
While ancient curses typically were uttered in Gaelic, the Irish have composed and uttered some of the most eloquent curses in a language not of their own.
Some great curses:
A fox on your fishing hook.
The Devil swallow him sideways.
The anguished banruptcy of the year on you.
May the devil take him by the heels and shake him.
The death of kittens to you.
May she still be alive till eveyone's sick at the sight.
May the seven terriers of Hell sit on the spool of your breast and bark in at your soul-case.
May he melt away like the froth of the river fishes hate.
I high, windy gallows to him.
Whoever put me into impotent grief and took my white tom-cat from me, may the mice come in waves as his company and the rats from the kiln give him the pursuit.
To the troll Jim..."A curse of widows and orphans on you."......